Panama hats have oddly enough always been made in Ecuador.
From the 1600’s, the weaving of hats out of the leaves of the toquilla palm has been done, at it’s finest level ,on the western coast of Ecuador.
These best hats are called Montecristo’s and are from the village of the same name in the province of Manabi. These hats are light colored, lightweight, breathable and have long been popular in hot climates where protection from the sun is essential . The price for Montecristos varies from hundreds of dollars to thousands.
It can take a skilled Ecuadorian craftsman up to six months to make one of these Panama hats. When you pick up a fine hat, it is light. You can roll it up in your suitcase and it returns to its shape when you take it out. The finer the weave the more expensive the hat.
President Theodore Roosevelt popularized the Panama hat when he wore one at the Panama Canal. A grandiose man, he was a President with an ego too large for whatever hat he was wearing.
It is said that a fine Panama hat will hold water and pass through a wedding ring when rolled up.
Machine made and cheap is the mantra of our times.
Turning men into machines and making machines do the work of men are themes of our day.